An imaginative child, James loved creating other worlds through re-enactment, drawing, building or writing.
“I was always writing stories,” he says.
After university he moved to Abbeyfeale, County Limerick with Ruth, his future wife, where he did up a house for his parents.
“My father is a sculptor. He was invited to teach in Ireland. He loved it and decided to stay.”
After three years it was back to Swansea, where James designed websites, sold his art and wrote and self-published game books.
“After eight years we moved to Newcastle and ended up living on a narrow boat; but four years ago we returned to Swansea.”
James embraces spirituality. He’d come across potent ideas, that have helped him to become calmer, and he wanted to start a group in order to help others.
“But I didn’t have the confidence, so I joined the Samaritans. I learned a lot about how awful people’s lives can be.”
When Covid hit, James started drawing pictures with transformative ideas, and posting them up on Instagram. When he was contacted from people of different cultures saying how much his artwork had helped them, he decided to collect the drawings into a book.
Who is James Norbury?
Date of birth: 1976 in the Forest of Deane. “But I grew up in Cheltenham.”
Education: Cheltenham Bournside Secondary School; Swansea University, Zoology. “I wanted to be a park ranger, but I couldn’t get a job without experience.”
Family: Wife Ruth, a textile artist and 8 cats including Loki, Sheldon, Squiggy, Princess Leonard and Philip. (James rehabilitates feral kittens for Cat Protection, Swansea).
The Day Job: Artist and writer.
In Another Life: “I’d love to run a noodle bar in Tokyo.”
Favourite Writers/Artists: Psutonu Nihei; Adolf Lachman.
Second Novel: “I have some good ideas.”
Top Tip: “Don’t be afraid to lay your heart out.”
Website: www.Jamesnorbury.com. Instagram: @bigpandaandtinydragon
The Debut: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon. Michael Joseph: €17.99.
Big Panda and Tiny Dragon journey through the seasons together. Frequently getting lost, they discover how to live in the moment and to be at peace with uncertainty and with each other. These illustrated ideas are based on the spirituality and Buddhist ideals that have helped the author.
The Verdict: This beautifully illustrated book would lighten anyone’s day.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 30th October.
© Sue J Leonard. 2021